Prevalent and persistent viral infection in cultures of the coral algal endosymbiont Symbiodinium

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Journal Article
Coral Reefs, 2017, 36 (3), pp. 773 - 784
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10.1007%2Fs00338-017-1568-7.pdfPublished Version3.09 MB
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© 2017, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Reef corals are under threat from bleaching and disease outbreaks that target both the host animal and the algal symbionts within the coral holobiont. A viral origin for coral bleaching has been hypothesized, but direct evidence has remained elusive. Using a multifaceted approach incorporating flow cytometry, transmission electron microscopy, DNA and RNA virome sequencing, we show that type C1 Symbiodinium cultures host a nucleocytoplasmic large double-stranded DNA virus (NCLDV) related to Phycodnaviridae and Mimiviridae, a novel filamentous virus of unknown phylogenetic affiliation, and a single-stranded RNA virus related to retroviruses. We discuss implications of these findings for laboratory-based experiments using Symbiodinium cultures.
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